There Are More Important Ethics Stories On The Runway, But This One Gets Priority Because It’s Soooo Stupid…

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ESPN, which we can now safely conclude is incompetent as well as being unethical in that very special way the Great Stupid demands, released this statement:

“We regret that this happened and have discussed it with Paragon, which secured the matchup and handles the majority of our high school event scheduling. They have ensured us that they will take steps to prevent this kind of situation from happening moving forward.”

What was “this kind of situation”? Oh, just a national sports network televising a high school football game between one of the the top teams in the nation and a fake team fielded by a fake high school. That’s all.

On Sunday, ESPN broadcast a high school football game between featuring Florida’s IMG Academy, one of the top rated teams in the country, and Ohio’s Bishop Sycamore, an obscure high school with a team nobody has written about or paid much attention to. ESPN had been assured by Bishop Sycamore—schools get compensated when their teams’ games are televised– that its football squad was stacked with top players. Uh, no. This was a primetime match-up on ESPN, but nobody there did any due diligence to check on the juggernaut IMG Academy’s competition. IMG won by the heart-pounding score of 58-0. The broadcasters were reduced to telling funny stories and expressing concern that the Bishop Sycamore players were at risk of serious injury.

But wait! There’s more!

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Ethics Dunce: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine

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Starting on May 26, the Ohio Lottery Commission will announce the winner of a drawing for adults who have received at least the first dose of a Wuhan virus vaccine. The announcement will take place during the evening lottery timeslot at 7:29 p.m. A total of 5 drawings will take place over 5 weeks. Each winner will receive $1 million.

The list of people in the lottery pool will be derived from the Ohio Secretary of State’s voter registration database. A website will also be available to sign up for people are not already in the database.

Just wait: there is something racist about all this.

The Ohio Department of Health will sponsor the drawing and it will be conducted by the Ohio Lottery. The money will from existing federal pandemic relief funds. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced this brainstorm during a statewide televised address.

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Ten Questions About The Lakewood High School Football Game Incident

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A football game at Lakewood High School in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, was intercepted and run into racial politics and partisan grandstanding territory when a voice over the public address system before the game declares that the school would has designated itself an “agent of change” in the battle against “systemic” racism in “society as a whole.”

After the band played the Lakewood alma mater, it then played “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the so-called “black national anthem,” in imitation of the NFL, which is featuring the song this season as part of its official grovel to Black Lives Matter. The announcer added his commentary about how racist the U.S. is, intoning,

 “Let us pause and reflect on the inequality that our nation has faced since its beginning. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tamir Rice among others remind us of the systemic racism that persists across so many of our nation’s institutions and society as a whole. By acknowledging, discussing, and taking action to address these inequalities, Lakewood City Schools aims to be an agent of change, not only in our community but in the world. We must all take a stand against racism. Let this be the moment when our children someday look back and say, ‘This is when we stood together for change.’”

Sources confirmed that both the school principal and the band director approved the political kick-off.

Despite receiving many complaints from parents and law enforcement over the stunt, the school reportedly will repeat its BLM-themed ritual in  future football games but will remove the names of those killed in encounters with police. Absurdly, the school will read a tribute to first responders at halftime as part of a “compromise” with law enforcement.

The new revised speech will provide context  for “ the black national anthem” explaining  how “Lift Every Voice and Sing” sets “an atmosphere of reverence for the journey of people of color, gratitude for the selfless sacrifices of their ancestors and for the inheritance of indomitability and resilience. The song recognizes these moments as important to moving forward toward hope and faith for a better future and a better America. The song is universally uplifting and speaks to every group that struggles.”

Here are some questions, rhetorical and otherwise:

1. What would you do if your child was involved in a high school sports contest and the school perverted it into a political demonstration? One father who attended the game said afterwards that he would have walked out…if it were not his son’s senior year. Yeah, those are typical priorities all right. It’s an outrage, but not important enough to teach a child that preserving standards and values is more important than a high school football game.

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Big Stupid In Little Miami

In this public school story out of Ohio, the only ones who didn’t embarrass themselves were two suspended students.

When the Little Miami High School football team took the field in the Hamilton Township on September 11, one player carried a Thin Blue Line flag and another a Thin Red Line flag alongside the American flag. The boys, Brady Williams, and Jarad Bentley, were honoring their fathers as well as the first responders in the Twin Towers tragedy. Williams’ father is a police officer, and his son said he wanted to honor all the cops who lost their lives trying to save others on 9/11. Bentley’s father is a firefighter. “If it had been him killed on 9/11, I would have wanted someone to do it for him,” he said.

The gesture got both students suspended indefinitely. Their mistake, according to school officials: asking for permission, and carrying the flags on the field anyway after they were turned down.  “We can’t have students who decide to do something anyway after they’ve been told that they shouldn’t be doing it,” said the school’s athletic director. But why was a gesture of respect to first responders deemed inappropriate on the anniversary of the attacks? The athletic director says he saw the flags as  political, presumably in the context of the George Floyd Freakout.  “We did not want to place ourselves in a circumstance where another family might want a different flag to come out of the tunnel, one that may be [one that] many other families may not agree with from a political perspective,” he said.

I wonder if a student carrying a Black Lives Matter flag would have been treated as harshly. (No I don’t.) Continue reading

Boy, This Guy Must Be One Hell Of A Lawn Mower!

This is going to be uncharacteristically short, but I feel the story deserves its own post

The Ohio Supreme Court has indefinitely suspended lawyer Austin Roan Buttars of Dublin, Ohio for transferring more than $147,000 from the accounts of a mentally ill client though the lawyer and his law firm were only owed about $19,000. Buttars acquired the other $128,000 by stealing from  or overcharging the client

Not that he didn’t work for his money. For example, the Court found that Buttars  charged his legal hourly rate for mowing her lawn.

I just thought you should know.

Should Abortions Be Ruled “Non-Essential” Medical Procedures In The Pandemic Crisis? An Ethics Decision-Making Exercise

News Item:

Texas and Ohio have included abortions among the nonessential surgeries and medical procedures that they are requiring to be delayed, setting off a new front in the fight over abortion rights in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

Both states said they were trying to preserve extremely precious protective equipment for health care workers and to make space for a potential flood of coronavirus patients.

But abortion rights activists said that abortions should be counted as essential and that people could not wait for the procedure until the pandemic was over.

On Monday, Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, clarified that the postponement of surgeries and medical procedures announced by Gov. Greg Abbott over the weekend included “any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.” Failure to do so, he said, could result in penalties of up to $1,000 or 180 days of jail time.

Oh-oh.

Is abortion truly a non-essential medical procedure? Is it ethical to treat it as one? This is a perfect storm of an ethics conflict colliding with an ethical dilemma, with so many of the factors that confound ethical analysis present. For example, is the shortage of beds and the stresses on medical services really the only factors being considered by those in making the policy decisions in Texas and Ohio? Is the pandemic really a cover, in whole or in part, for other motives, like a desire to limit abortions generally for as long as possible? Is the ethical response by a pregnant woman to comply with the policy, even to the point of giving birth. There are many ethics decisions involved here.

Let’s just focus on one of them, the decision to call abortions non-essential procedures, and run it through one of the ethics decision-making systems. I’m going to use Professor Laura Nash’s 12 Questions, from her Harvard Business Review article, “Ethics without the Sermon” (1981)]

1. Have you defined the problem accurately?

In other words, “What’s going on here?” Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Reveries, 3/15/2020: Oh, Hell…I Have To Write About The Wuhan Virus Whether I Want To Or Not..

Good morning…

The avalanche of Wuhan virus stories with ethical implications cannot all be squeezed Part III of the series about the pandemic’s ethical implications, especially since that one will concentrate on politics and the news media. So I’m stuck, much as I would prefer to think about almost anything else….

1. Here’s one that compels the question, “What’s going on here?” among others.  The Struthers, Ohio, police department posted this notice on Facebook:

“Due to the coronavirus, the police department is asking that all criminal activities stop until further notice. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation in the matter. We will update you when we deem it’s appropriate to proceed with yo bad selves.”

Before I got to the end, I assumed this was a serious message. It is far from the dumbest thing I’ve seen in response to the Wuhan Virus mess.Then I reached the end, and I decided that it was probably a joke.

Thinking some more, though: would it necessarily be futile to ask criminals to be responsible members of the community just for a while, for their own benefit as well as society’s? There might be some who would take the appeal to heart. If there were, however, the joke ending of the message would undermine any such impulse.

2. More on the Name Game: Our esteemed Mrs. Q had dubbed the illness the WuFlu. Checking on Google, there was a flurry or reports using that name in January and February; there was even a hashtag. I like it, but using Wuhan Virus does a better job of rubbing in the face of the appropriate parties the deceit and cowardice of the news media’s rush to follow China’s edict and pretend that the virus originated somewhere else. Continue reading

Robert Bowman Redux, Times Two, But Ohio’s Nicer Than New York

For several years I chronicled the frustrating travails of aspiring lawyer Robert Bowman. He was the New York law student repeatedly turned down for membership in the bar by  a panel of New York judges, who determined that he did not have the requisite good character to be admitted to the practice of law in New York because he owed nearly a half-million dollars in student loans. Not paying back financial commitments is one of the specific components of “moral turpitude,” which will block anyone from becoming a lawyer, though it will seldom get one kicked out of the profession after one becomes a lawyer. Go figure. The panel kept rejecting Bowman  because they felt his debt was per se proof of  irresponsible and negligent financial management, making him an unacceptable risk for any client.

A New York bar association subcommittee investigated, and  concluded that far from being of dubious character, Bowman was an individual of “exceptional character,” with unusual perseverance, humility and tenacity. It strongly recommended him for admission to the New York Bar, despite the outstanding debts. Ireaclize now that I never told Ethics Alarms readers “the rest of the story”: Bowman is a New York lawyer now. He finally won his appeal, though the news media, which chronicled his failures, decided that his ultimate success wasn’t newsworthy.

How do I know this? Bowman contacted me himself to tell me. He said he was grateful to all the people who had supported his quest, and was telling each of them, individually, in person.

Now comes the story, also with a possible happy ending, of another frustrated lawyer-to-be with similar issues, this time in Ohio, although I must say that her circumstances seem a bit more difficult to excuse. Cynthia Marie Rodgers (above) is a Capital University School of Law graduate whose Ohio character and fitness application was rejected because she has nearly twice as much school loan debt as Bowman, almost $900,000. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: “Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act of 2019”

What new fresh Hell is this?

Perhaps not quite what it appears to be. The mainstream media, hostile as ever to religion, and of course to Republicans, making this a happy twofer, widely described the bill recently passed in the Ohio House as “Under the law, students can’t be penalized if their work is scientifically wrong as long as the reasoning is because of their religious beliefs. Instead, students are graded on substance and relevance.”

Well, that would be crazy. Such a bone-headed law would allow a religious student to state a non-fact as fact (no, the Earth just isn’t 6,000 years old no matter what Williams Jennings Bryan said) but a non-religious student repeating the same error would be graded down. But is this really what the “Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act of 2019” requires?

Here’s what it says:

Sec. 3320.03. No school district board of education, governing authority of a community school established under Chapter 3314. of the Revised Code, governing body of a Sec. STEM school established under Chapter 3326. of the Revised Code, or board of trustees of a college-preparatory boarding school established under Chapter 3328. of the Revised Code shall prohibit a student from engaging in religious expression in the completion of homework, artwork, or other written or oral assignments. Assignment grades and scores shall be calculated using ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance, including any legitimate pedagogical concerns, and shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work.

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Now THIS Is An Unethical Pastor! Also An Idiot. Also…ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

As I go through life, I find myself having increasing difficulty distinguishing organized religions from cults. I know what Ben Franklin would say: “cult” is always used in the third person, as in “their cult.” I also have a difficult time of late distinguishing cults from religions. Isn’t climate change activism a religion now? How about hating President Trump? Socialism has always been a cult. Cults install One Great Truth as a substitute for critical thought and the ongoing process of self-education and accumulated wisdom. They also can drive people mad.

Take, for example, this story….

Jaddeus Dempsey, the associate pastor at Impact City Church in Pataskala, Ohio, asked the kids attending his after-school youth program to spit in his face,  slap him in the face, and finally to cut him on the back with a kitchen knife. He explained that  the exercise was part of a larger lesson on “how much Jesus loved them.”

If Jesus really loved them, He wouldn’t allow them to get trapped in a room with this wacko.

The whole horrible  episode was partially captured on video, as you can see above. Some of Dempsey’s Disciples  shout and laugh as they line up to  spit at the pastor and slap him.  Some of them seem genuinely enthusiastic about abusing him.  (Hitler Youth may have been trained this way.) The video ends after the first cut with the kitchen knife; who knows what happened after that.

The church spokesperson “explained” that Dempsey was just trying  to present the exercise as a lesson of the crucifixion ahead of the Easter holiday.

Oh! Then that’s all right then!

Dempsey appeared in a video on the church’s Facebook page, saying with a knife sticking out of his back—I’m joking!

“It was just not appropriate and it was in bad judgment. I am so sorry for misrepresenting the community, the church, the parents, and the students — anybody that I hurt. This was not my intention. My intention was to just show them how much Jesus loves them and that I love them as a student leader for almost four years now. Tonight was an anomaly and it is not normally what happens. Again, I am deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused.”

Got it! You’re an irresponsible moron, and unfit to be left alone with children! Now check yourself into a mental ward, that’s a good pastor…

The church’s lead Pastor Justin Ross elaborated on the intended lesson. “Jaddeus got up in front of the students and he says, ‘I’m going to ask you to do something that might seem a little crazy, but if there’s anyone here that would like to spit in my face, you can do so without any repercussions,” Ross said.

“He had the opportunity to share a message about Easter,” Ross added, “and he chose to use an illustration to explain a very important topic about the crucifixion, but the illustration went too far.”

Ya think?????

In another statement, Ross told WBNS-TV,

“We exist to create an environment that is safe and predictable for students to come, connect with their friends and grow closer to God. Today we failed at creating that safe, predictable environment. We want to do better.”

Well that’s a relief. It would be pretty hard to do worse.

Another disturbing aspect of the episode was that none of the adults, including Ross, who were in the room  witnessing Dempsey’s deranged lesson—that was child abuse, you know— had the integrity, courage or independence to stop it.

Cults are like that.

The mother of one of the male children who handled the knife told a TV station that  her son won’t be returning to the church, and that she reported the incident to the sheriff’s office. Good. That’s one responsible parent. Unfortunately, I assume most will echo the sentiment of Kelsey Collier, who  told the BBC,

“Jaddeus and people in that church were always there for us.They’re the most understanding, least judgmental people you will ever meet.”

Well they certainly have the least judgment of anyone you are likely to meet…

 “I don’t think someone should be judged just based on one mistake, that one mistake doesn’t define who he is.”

Sorry, Kelsey, but someone in a better youth group needs to introduce you to the concept of signature significance.

Normal, trustworthy, rational and responsible people don’t tell kids to slap them and cut them with knives—ever. That’s not a mistake, that’s fanaticism, and it absolutely defines what the pastor is, at least in a professional context.

Dangerous, and nuts.